penalty shouts: Randy Dobnak, the baseball Uber driver

This is Penalty Shouts, The Tartan’s sports column inspired by the The New Yorker’s column Daily Shouts. This satire-fueled column will focus on anything and everything funny in the sports world that is deserving of our comedic attention.

Last week, South Park native and owner of a sick Fu Manchu mustachio Randy Dobnak made his major league debut for the Minnesota Twins. Just two years ago, Dobnak was an unscouted, unmustachioed Independent League baseball player based out of the famous baseball-ing state of Michigan. As any baseball fan would know, when Ray Liotta asks Kevin Costner at the end of Field of Dreams if this is heaven, Costner responds: “No, it’s Michigan.”

So we have to ask ourselves, where did Dobnak come from? And more importantly, how did he get that sick face spaghetti? If Dobnak played basketball, I would say a group of aliens descended from the Warner Brothers Universe to grant Dobnak his abilities (and mustache) by stealing powers from an entire team, likely the Pirates. It would explain why Dobnak has only just made his major league debut because powers stolen from a team with success would put Dobnak on a Hall of Fame track. Alas, we don’t live in a Looney Tunes world. We’ll have to settle for theories like Dobnak falling into a vat of radioactive waste or being bitten by a poisonous spider.

However, there is one theory just too insane to believe. Dobnak’s abilities were granted to him by the Uber genie. The Uber genie, of course, being the corporate genie that grants you three wishes (terms and conditions apply) if you have a perfect 5/5 rating on Uber. Given to us by a collective of the most powerful tech geniuses around—Zuckerberg, Gates, Andrew Yang — any Uber driver, like Dobnak, may accept the chance for three wishes in lieu of any compensation from the company for the work provided. In previous corporate genie situations, the genie would have accepted extraneous benefits like dental or health insurance as recompense for the chance at three wishes, but Uber drivers don’t earn benefits already.

Now the question becomes how did Dobnak, professional baseball player, have time to drive for Uber? Additionally, why did he drive for Uber? Isn’t baseball a profitable enterprise? And how did he end up with a 4.99/5 rating on Uber? Note: Uber genie uses a truncation system with a 0.01 margin of error.

Turns out, the starting salary of a minor league baseball player is $12,000 per season. $12,000 may be a livable amount for four months of the year, especially when those four months are spent with most of your travel and living expenses paid. But what are these aspiring major leaguers supposed to do for the other eight months of the year, when their wealthier teammates are taking batting practice in Venezuela? Usually, they turn to the gig economy. After all, it’s hard to get a decent job when you tell your boss that you have to disappear for four, five, even six months of the year. Dobnak turned to Uber to help pay the bills at a financially tough time, and Dobnak continued to drive for Uber even into spring training this past year. That was when the Uber genie must have found our struggling Dobnak, took pity on him, and offered him three wishes.

First, Dobnak wished for infinite wishes. The genie didn’t grant the wish saying, “genies never grant that wish silly.” Second, Dobnak wished for all the money in the world, but the genie denied it on the basis that he would have to take Uber’s money, too, which isn’t allowed. Finally, Dobnak wished to be good at baseball. The genie granted the wish with the condition that Dobnak spend eternity playing baseball in the frozen ninth circle of Hell: Minnesota.